Wednesday, October 13

Sliding scale, or The Comparison Blues

When you're feeling delicate, emotionally speaking, Facebook is absolutely the worst pastime. Because you can sit and browse and compare your life to the dazzling ones of all your Friends You Barely Know Anymore, whose snapshots of gorgeous weddings and incredible travel and the fulfillment of bigger goals than Try to Shower Daily come across as irritating and braggy. Nice beach vacation photo, high school acquaintance! Clearly you're doing well for yourself, and the posting of this photo is direct commentary on my lack of success!

Then I feel bad for mentally attaching snarky thought bubbles to other people's photos and lives in general, and I remind myself that I'm so much better off than many other people. Like that couple who got married in Waffle House. I may not have Giselle's body, but mine is certainly better than Meatloaf's! My house may not be a mansion, but it's better than living in a flea-infested hut in the jungle!

Then I feel bad for demeaning other peoples' lives to feel better about my own. I'm sure there are plenty of people in this world—millions, in fact—who are "worse off" but also have a "better attitude" than me.

Why do I do this? Why do we as a culture do this? When has it ever been productive, fair or fulfilling to measure the value of our lives on some contrived spectrum? My body is what my body is. It's mine, it's what I've got, and it's miraculous. My home is what my home is. It's warm or cool as needed, pleasant, cleanish, with a good amount of land surrounding it (and it might also feature a nuclear fallout shelter and/or Desmond from Lost and/or buried pirate treasure). My talents are what my talents are. I'm no David Sedaris, but I'm not David Sedaris.

Meanwhile, there's a two year old in the room next door to whom I am the world. He's learning how to sleep in a toddler bed, and as I sat on the floor holding his hand, he looked at me and said, "You love me, don't you?" And I said, "Of course I do. I love you very much." And he said, "I'm love you too."

I doubt he'd say the same thing to David Sedaris.


Danielle said...

I wish I could say something witty or funny, but I know the feeling all too well. Your last few sentences reminded me of my son, well he's not talking, but he just learned to give hugs and kisses. Makes me realize I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Plus, I get to build forts in my living room and stay in my pajamas all day if I feel like it.

Caroline Martin said...

Precious post, Erin. The last paragraph made my eyes well up. I miss you and I'm love you, too!

Slamdunk said...

I hope your toddler bed experiment goes well Erin. We have ours in separate rooms now, and maybe someday I'll be able to sleep in a bedroom again as opposed to the hallway blocking our youngest explorer son's door (keeps him from wandering anywhere and everywhere after the lights go out).

Costume Diva said...

Amen sista! Hence the exact reason I got OFF facebook. "Is my ex boyfriends girlfriend prettier than me? She had a baby and her body looks better than it did before? So and so got that job I wanted!" Yeah, its not healty. And ps... Im sure plenty of people read your page and think "I wish I had a husband who loves me and a beautiful son and a witty sense of prose like Erin!" ;-)

mrs. fuzz said...

I'm love this post!

I do the same thing sometimes to acquaintance's blogs posts or facebook photos. I don't realize that I'm doing the voices out loud and in a falsetto ("well didn't life turn out just perfect for you, little Miss Perfect!") and then I realize HF is sitting nearby watching me and shaking his head disappointedly. He's the nice one in the relationship.

Erin said...

Danielle—I hear you. I have so many privileges that come with being able to stay home with my boy.

Caroline—I miss you and I'm love you too! I can't wait to meet that little angel of yours, too.

Slam—Thankfully once he fell asleep, that was him for the night. Follow up post forthcoming.

Costume Diva—That's kind of what I was getting at with the whole "my life is better than some people's" thing. Although "better" is subjective, I can say with certainty that I have an enviable life.

mrs. fuzz—Thank goodness I'm not the only one. I, too, give people new names based on their perceived attributes. Like Perfect McPerfectpants.

Lish said...

Sometimes it happens.
Life busies itself up and along the way things go to pot.
You convince yourself that every two days with a shower is just find and NO! Your hair doesn't look the least bit yucky!
You don't really have time to shave your legs or paint your fingernails, but you convince yourself it's okay - you're not ugly, after all - and your husband still seems to like you.
But after a while it all starts to gang up on you.
Those little things that you don't have time for connect in teensy ways to your self confidence levels.
And it doesn't even have to be physical little things - it could be having the energy at night for a little um, Chat, with your husband. Or making sure all of the toys are picked up. Or being a little extra tired and snapping at someone when you normally wouldn't.

Pretty soon you tell yourself that you overreacted - but you don't just let it go at that. Because you know you overreacted, but you also know this girl - we'll call her Beth - in a similar situation as you that never seems to overreact or snap at people.
Plus her toenails are always painted.
And her kid never has a dirty face in public.

And it goes from there.

It doesn't take much to get us women down - especially us women with little voices inside of our heads.
Sometimes we even get so down that we need a slam bam perspective change. I just don't know a foolproof way to get one. They always seem to surprise me and come out of nowhere.

Right now for me it's the prettier pregnant women. I'm UGLY pregnant. My skin doesn't behave and even though I'm not massive, I have gestational diabetes and I'm convinced that's a failing of mine. I keep breaking out and my skin itches all over - not like yours did, but in the dry air kind of way - and I end up with claw marks on my arm that make me look REALLY insane.
But my friends that are pregnant now are GORGEOUS. And they're glowing! And so happy and not facing all of these life changes! And they can drink chocolate milk!

I'm lucky though in many ways - and somewhere down deep I know that.
Sometimes it takes an additional shake up or two to really remind me.

Long ramble short?
I feel ya, yo.

stephanie said...

i hear ya E. i try not to check in on certain people's pages because it ends up being torturous and nothing good seems to come of it.

ethan is SO sweet. i sorta got teary too.

Kate @ Daffodils said...

Admittedly, sometimes my blog envy is worse than facebook envy. It is an odd balance of narcisism in thinking that people care what I am posting, and insecurity that no one is reading. It is torture!

Ethan sounds so sweet though. Baby boys are the best :)

Erin said...

Lish—I like long comments. Good on ya.

stephanie—I'm glad you too recognize Ethan's high quality.

KL—Don't even get me started on blog envy. And there's nothing quite like a baby boy, is there?

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